The secret of successful proximity marketing: create awesome customer experience
It is said that in a regular day a person can be exposed, by average, to anywhere between 3 to 20 thousands of commercial messages. But only a few percent of this information are actually consciously analyzed by the brain and draw our attention. It is those bits of attention the thing advertisers are fighting for every day. In this times, companies have a rough time keeping their regular brick-and-mortar locations running smooth.
Therefore, it is the time they came up with something totally different. Along with the development of microlocation technologies such as Bluetooth iBeacons, RFID tags, NFC and WiFi, the term proximity marketing has become more and more popular among marketers all around the world.
Beacon-based consumer communication and proximity marketing solutions, in particular, have already proved their usability in various fields, especially in retail and banking, as more and more companies use beacons in order to enhance their customer experience. There are also many companies around the world which implement pilot projects in order to test the functionalities of the system and the way consumers react to this kind of technology.
Beacon technology enables hypercontextual way to market and provides new, fundamental perspectives, capable of changing the whole marketing communication paradigm for those who correctly understand the opportunity and make the effort to adapt their strategies having this technology in mind.
Experience is the Thing
First of all, what is this proximity thing all about? In theory, proximity marketing means communicating information to the consumer at the right place, at the right time, in a relevant context. In reality, though, it seems that contextuality and relevance is sometimes forgotten by those who include proximity and microlocation in their communication strategies.
Contrary to what some marketers believe at this moment, using beacon technology in proximity marketing does not refer only to pushing commercial and promotional information to consumers (sales, discounts, coupons, vouchers, media about products). In fact, this kind of usage of beacon technology actually puts the whole beacon market in danger.
Being a relatively new technology, people need to gain trust in it before they accept it and start to use it on a daily basis. Therefore, we might encounter what we call a technological barrier. Blindly throwing commercial information, without creating entciting experiences, not only does enforce this barrier, but it creates reluctance among consumers, as they perceive this technology just as another channel companies use for delivering ads.
But beacon technology can do much more. Using beacon technology wisely means creating exceptional experiences for consumers, which are delivered in a personalized and relevant manner. The key words in this field are: micro-localization, context, personalization, experience.
Use case 1 – retail:
Let’s take a regular brick-and-mortar store for example: by exchanging information between a smartphone, beacons and the store’s cloud-based CMS, the user who enters the store can be easily identified. By knowing users’ identity, the system can deliver a unique personalized experience, based on the consumer’s profile, acquisition history, wishlists and preferences.
For example, the system knows precisely from the beacons that John Doe is in the store, but it also knows that John has recently put a laptop computer in the store’s mobile app’s wishlist. Therefore, instead of being notified about discounts at, let’s say, grocery products, John will receive a personalized message, which lets him know that his preferred laptop is available on stock and he will get a discount or custom financing options if he decides to buy it from there.
In other words, if we speak about using beacons in proximity marketing, the only way to make a difference is by creatively and smartly using data, in order to provide a pleasurable, useful, interesting experience, adapted to the customer’s profile and context, instead of just using it as a regular commercial communication channel.
The Carrefour story:
In the summer of 2015, Carrefour placed 500 of our beacons in 28 of their hypermarkets in Romania in a pilot campaign which involved a couple hundred of users and some dozens of pre-selected products. The mobile application used in this project introduced the concept called “Carrefour Smart Shopping” and delivered two main benefits for the consumers: providing automated guidance for users throughout the store based on their shopping list and offering promotional information based on their location in the store and interest for specific products. The application was pre-installed on tablets which were mounted on a couple of specially modified shopping carts.
The project was a real success, as we have noticed a 60% increase in sales for the products included in the campaign. Of course, the solution can and should be constantly improved by adding new features and increasing precision and stability, in order to become available for all users. This is just one example out of many of how to use beacons wisely in retail.
Use case 2 – banking:
Let’s say that our John is in the proximity of the bank and has the Internet Banking mobile application installed on his smartphone. The beacon system will detect his presence and send him a notification that a branch is open nearby, as well as reminders about scheduled payments or other usual transactions he might want to do. If John decides to enter the branch, the system will send a personalized welcome message, by integrating beacon CMS APIs with the bank’s CRM platform. Moreover, a list of available services will be displayed from which John can select what he is interested in.
Based on his service choice, John will be allocated to one of the desk officers. While the employee of the bank will be notified about the client’s presence and service choices, John will receive an estimation of the waiting time. During the waiting time, John will be informed about documents to be signed, simulations or estimations for potential transactions or credits, as well as personalized products and service offers. In the same time, John can pay some monthly invoices and activate or change options and preferences for their financial arrangements.
When the waiting time is over, the desk officer will already know that John is in the branch and will have all the necessary papers prepared. This way, John will spend much less time in the bank and will have a much more pleasurable experience.
From the bank’s perspective, all the information and analytics collected from the beacon system about client’s preferences and behavior will enable them to offer even better services and to adapt their strategy in order to provide the best experience to the clients in the future.
Beacons in Banking story:
In 2016, one of the biggest banks in the middle-east implemented an innovative beacon-based system connected with the bank’s CRM in order to deliver enhanced customer experiences. Beacons were placed in many of their branches while the mobile app was distributed to their customers.
Over the last year, tens of thousands of users have used the app, while millions of interactions with the beacons have been recorded. Beacons have been used to deliver customer experiences in more than 40 different campaigns and the overall customer feedback has been great. Therefore, company is looking forward to develop the system even more.
As markets are becoming more and more competitive and consumers’ attention span to commercial information is shortening day by day, there is only one way to survive: reinvent the classic shopping experience.
At this moment, many marketers still believe that proximity marketing and using beacons means pushing notifications to users’ phones. However, we know that this technology has much more potential and there are basically thousands of ways to use beacons in order to create a seamless, cross-channel shopping experience. It’s all about creativity and imagination.